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Transition Services

Some youth, because of the nature of their mental, behavioral or emotional issues, will need on-going support after they reach the legal age of 18. If your child is approaching 18, and is currently receiving services, it is a good idea to begin planning his transition. A well thought out transition plan can ease some of the uncertainty, both for you and your child.

A transition plan is a document you and your child put together along with people from the agencies that will be providing services to your child after he turns 18. It describes the activities and goals that should be accomplished before your child finishes school. It can be a very helpful guide for both you and your child.

If your child is receiving special education services, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that transition planning starts by the time a child is 14. After your child turns 14, her Individual Education Plans (IEP) should always include an Individual Transition Plan.

Done properly, a good transition plan can help your child achieve her goals for the future. When the transition planning begins, the IEP must include a description of activities or goals in the following areas;

  1. Education
  2. Community experiences
  3. Employment and other after-graduation goals
  4. Daily living skills
  5. If appropriate, a functional vocational evaluation.

The IDEA also recommends that services for your child should be coordinated among agencies.

HOW FAMILIES CAN HELP WITH TRANSITION PLANNING

In addition to the structured IEP and transition planning, you should work with your child to make the move from school to adult life. You might want to begin by finding out from your child:

  1. WHAT DOES SHE WANT TO DO?

    Talk to your child and learn what her goals are. Find out what she likes to do and what she can do. Learn what you can do to help her reach her goals, and what other kind of help she will need to reach her goals.

  2. WHAT KIND OF JOB OR CAREER DOES SHE WANT?

    Talk to her teachers and counselors to know what is realistic for her. If appropriate, you may want to encourage her to get a job while she is still in high school. Supported employment may be appropriate for many youth who are transitioning. Supported employment gives people with disabilities the chance to work in productive jobs in real community settings. Many community mental health centers have vocational rehabilitation staff that can help your child find a job or connect her with supported employment.

  3. WHERE WILL SHE LIVE?

    It’s not too early to think about her living situation after high school. It may be appropriate for her to stay at home for a while. On the other hand, she may want to get an apartment or live with a roommate. Some young people will do better in group homes or residential facilities. You need to find out what’s available in your community.

  4. HOW WILL SHE SUPPORT HERSELF?

    Will she be able to support herself on wages from a job, or will she need additional help. If she has a disability, find out whether she qualifies for Social Security Income (SSI) or other assistance programs such as food stamps.

  5. HOW WILL SHE GET MEDICAL CARE?

    If your child is currently receiving Medicaid, find out what needs to be done to make sure her Medicaid continues after she turns 18. Don’t wait until her 18th birthday to do this, because you don’t want any gaps in her medical coverage. If she is not Medicaid eligible, read your health insurance policy to find out whether or under what conditions your insurance will cover her after she turns 18.

  6. WHAT OTHER HELP DOES SHE NEED TO LIVE ON HER OWN?

    Help her learn about money management by giving her an allowance, or working out a budget with her when she gets a job. Teach her how to register to vote. Teach your son how to register for the draft.

  7. WHAT KIND OF SOCIAL LIFE WILL SHE HAVE WHEN SHE LEAVES SCHOOL?

    Talk to her about dating, marriage, and even family planning. Find out how she plans to make friends. Encourage her to become involved in her church or temple.

AGENCY RESOURCES

Any agency that will provide services to your child should be part of her transition plan. Although by law, the school is required to coordinate the transition plan, this may not always happen. You should be prepared to make contacts with people at these agencies. Talk to your child’s therapist or case manager to get the names and phone numbers of agency contacts.

The following agencies can provide support to your child when she leaves home:

School District, Department of Education – can provide skills training, vocational education, special education, career counseling, work experience, school to work programs, special programs for children with disabilities.

Department of Rehabilitation - (Vocational Rehabilitation in some regions) can provide job placement assistance, help with assistive technology, career counseling, and special programs for people with disabilities.

Single Entry Point Agencies – provide services for people with specific disabilities and link people to  services which include service coordination (case management) independent living skills training, and others.

Social Security - can provide supplemental security income, social security disability insurance, Plans for Achieving Self Support (PASS plans) and Medicaid.

Community Colleges - can provide Job Placement, general education learning disability programs, Certified Vocational Education Programs, Associate of Art Degrees; Developmental disability programs of special education.

State Universities – can provide accommodations for classes, general education curricula, bachelor and graduate degrees and specialized services for students with disabilities.

Division of Employment – can provide information about job searches, job search and resume workshops, job referrals, and labor market information.

Mental Health - can provide on-going mental health services. Adult programs are somewhat different than children’s programs so talk to your therapist to learn about the adult programs at your mental health center.

Parents And Family Members - of course, families aren’t an agency, but families can provide life-long encouragement, guidance and support. Families can also provide financial support, help finding community services, advocacy for their children, and opportunities to explore interests and learning activities.